Extroverts may be known for being outspoken and bringing the “fun.” But, throughout history, introverts have shaped our culture by making great social, technological and political contributions to our society.
One common misconception about introverts is that they are shy. But, introversion and shyness are not synonymous. Introverts’ need for quiet and solitude does not necessarily mean that they are shying away from people — it simply means that they need time to recharge. While extroverts gain their energy from social engagement, introverts draw their energy from being alone. It is in those moments of solitude that some of the top actors, thinkers, and politicians of our time have sharpened their greatness.
Here are five habits we should copy from famous introverts:
Albert Einstein once said:
"One of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life into the world of objective perception and thought."
There is no doubt that solitude and contemplation allow for deep thinking. Deep thinking paves the way for the development of wisdom and discernment. The direct result is making better decisions. Warren Buffet, the Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, attributes much of his success to his daily ritual of creating time to think. Buffet says:
"I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. I read and think... and make less impulse decisions than most people in business."
Introverts have a unique ability to focus on matters at hand and tune out the world around them. This ability leads to concentrate allows them to thrive to finish projects and even thrive during difficult moments. J.K.Rowling, the creator and author of Harry Potter, is a self-professed introvert. She is pre-disposed to spending long periods of time in deep thought letting her creative imagination take form. This deep focus even allowed her to tune out the world during a delayed train commute where the idea of Harry Potter was conceived.
Interestingly, J.K.Rowling was suffering from depression at the time. She had just lost her mother, relocated to another country, went through a divorce and was left to raise her daughter as a single mom. Despite the adversity she was facing, she chose to focus her time and energy on creating Harry Potter. The rest is now history. TV political journalist George Stephanopulos, is also an introvert who has learned how to harness the power of focus by incorporating meditation into his life. He is known to begin his days at 2:15am to meditate and focus his mind.
Perhaps because introverts cultivate time alone in deep thought, they develop strong convictions and a sense of justice that shapes their characters. A conviction is a firmly held belief grounded in knowledge and experience. Conviction inspires people to stand strong in the face of great opposition. Rosa Parks was an African-American woman who was reserved and introverted. Her convictions against racism led her to not give up her seat to a white man on a city bus in the 1960s despite the legal ramifications. Her courage helped to fuel the civil rights movement in America. Eleanor Roosevelt, the longest-serving First Lady in American history, was also an introvert and a woman of conviction. Eleanor Roosevelt was a strong advocate for women and the underprivileged. She fought against racism and worked in support of international human rights.
Preparation is an introvert’s “secret sauce.” Preparation lays a foundation for excellence in any course of action and implementing this important component of success comes naturally for introverts. Because introverts are able to focus and think situations and projects through before taking action, they can execute well. Their natural bent towards finding alone time to create cognitive space also allows them to move at their own pace — moving as fast or as slow as needed to develop mastery.
Oscar Award-winning actress Meryl Streep is an introvert. She invests countless hours researching and preparing to fully immerse herself into a character. Her preparation has led to her being the most Oscar-nominated actor. Another introvert, Elon Musk the CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors attributes his great public speaking ability to his preparation. Musk says,
“I’m basically like an introverted engineer, so, it took a lot of practice and effort to be able to go up on stage and not just stammer basically... As the CEO, you kind of have to.”
Finally, President Barack Obama is an introvert who spent a large amount of time studying history, reading presidential biographies, and conversing with presidential scholars to better understand his own role in history so that he could govern effectively.
Introverts are more comfortable connecting with others one-on-one. Introverts use this to their advantage. Rather than connecting with people in large group events, introverts set up lunch dates, dinners, and outings with those they want to get to know. These one-on-one opportunities allow introverts to get to know others on a more personal basis — deeper and more meaningful connections with others are developed. For introverts in leadership positions, this can also foster loyalty. Trust is forged, ideas are shared, and bonds are solidified.
Additionally, introverts tend to have strong emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive how others are feeling. Because introverts spend the time to reflect, they tend to be aware of their own feelings and this makes them more sensitive to how others feel. Also, introverts often do more listening than talking. These skills are key in helping introverts to form important partnerships. American inventor and Co-Founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak is an introvert who liked to work alone, but also understands the importance of relationships. His long-time friendship and partnership with Steve Jobs led to defining our age of technology.
Introverted personality types may be quiet or shy in social situations, but the personality traits of these introverted leaders have led them to become successful introverts. That's because the power of introverts is unlike any other personality type. The aforementioned habits, if practiced on a regular and consistent basis cultivate leadership. Escaping the everyday life to be introspective; focusing on matters at hand; developing strong convictions and beliefs; preparing for opportunities and developing meaningful relationships puts you on track to your personal best. Introvert and Hall of Fame baseball champion Joe DiMaggio once said, “A person always doing his or her best becomes a natural leader, just by example."
Ellie Nieves, JD, MBA, develops webinars, seminars, and coaching programs to help high achieving women show up, speak up, and step up in their careers. She is also the host of the Leadership Strategies for Women Podcast where she shares success tips to help women achieve more both personally and professionally. To learn more, go to: www.EllieNieves.com.
Our employer partners are actively recruiting women! Update your profile today.